One Tourniquet

by Andrew Motion

It was a long time ago
but I was there,
a combat medical technician.
 
I saw children
and IEDs
which wasn’t nice at all.
 
One boy:
he had shorts and a dirty vest,
he stood on a mine;
 
he was conscious at first,
screaming,
 
and I thought
what a mess.
 
All in a bit of field.
 
None of the other kids cried,
they’re all quite sort of tough.
 
Very tough kids in fact.
 
Definitely.
 
At the time
we were issued with only one tourniquet each.
 
But Camp Phoenix was down the road
and he went there.
 
A double amputee.
 
We heard later he survived.
 
So yeah. Brilliant.
 
Everything is hard.
Everything they’ve got to do
everywhere they’ve got to go.
Just hard.
 
I used to imagine
little towns in the country
nobody knew.
 
Little towns nobody had touched.
 
People would be living there
all the same.
 
Just living there
in the vastness.